Monday, July 11, 2005



My dictionary describes a paradox as, ‘a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that may in fact be true.’ The words of Jesus in Matthew 10:39 may seem to be a paradox, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

The paradox which is the subject of today’s entry, is a small sailing boat designed by Matt Layden. This is a very different boat to the ‘normal’ general purpose dinghy, and yet she is no bigger - in fact she’s smaller than a Roamer class dinghy specifically designed for cruising.

What makes this an unusual small boat is that one can sail her from inside, completely protected from the elements. This is a most useful attribute in the UK where the weather can take a turn for the worst without warning. Another feature is her full-length berth for one person; there is also provision for preparing heated food and drinks. She is a miniature sailboat for coastal cruising in good weather conditions. I would add the qualification, ‘in good weather conditions’, since coastal cruising can be more dangerous and difficult than open water sailing, because of hazards such as the proximity of land, particularly headlands which accelerate wind and currents; then there’s the avoidance of all manner of vessels and the necessity of working tides.

Paradox has only one sail, namely a lugsail, but it can be reefed in the same way a roller window blind is rotated around a spindle, which in this case is the boom. All working of the boat is carried out from inside the cabin by using lines. Steering is done by using a continuous line which passes through blocks while attached to a tiller; thereby one can steer the boat from any point within her cabin. Her helmsman sits facing forward with his head above deck and he has 360 degree view through continuous Perspex windows, apart from a small sector caused by supports for the cabin top.

Another original feature is her chine runners which are like narrow fore and aft keels fitted horizontally on both sides of the boat. As the boat heels, the chine runners help prevent excessive leeway when sailing to windward. Such an arrangement allows the craft to be sailed in very shallow water and enables her to take the ground easily when drying out on a beach or settling in a mud berth.

Until now, all Parodox sailboats have been built individually according to detailed plans drawn up by Matt, but I’m hoping to build my boat from a kit of wooden parts, rather than having to start with the bare materials. Alec Jordan, of Jordan Boats will be supplying me with a kit very shortly, all being well.

Web sites:
Paradox UK -
Jordan Boats -
Paradox Study Plans -
Study Sketches -
Discussion Group -
Alastair Law’s Web Site -

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